Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Kathleen Belew ─ Understanding White Supremacy: Decoding the Actions of the White Power Movement

Monday, March 22, 2021

4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

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The Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 was the largest deliberate mass casualty on American soil between Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Yet unlike those actions, most people don’t understand what that attack was, and what it meant. It was not the work of “lone wolves,” but rather the crescendo of a string of violent attacks perpetrated by a broad, deeply networked social movement, the white power movement—one that brought together an array of Klan, neo-Nazi, skinhead, and militia activists in outright war on the federal government. We are now decades, if not generations, into this activism, which has killed Americans, damaged infrastructure, and now represents the single largest terrorist threat to the United States. And even as white power activists appear in violent actions across the country and as one component of the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol, we still don’t fully understand it. Author and historian of the modern white power movement, Kathleen Belew decodes the movement’s worldview, actions, and planned attack on America, and teaches us how to prevent it from destroying the democracy we cherish.

Kathleen Belew is a historian, teacher, and author of Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America (Harvard, 2018, paperback 2019).

Addressing Global Racism